Warren Buffett's annual letter: Berkshire got a $29 billion gift

Warren Buffett’s optimism may get tested this year

Modal Trigger Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett AP

Manufacturing, services and retailing operations reported that profit increased to $6.2 billion a year ago from $5.6 billion in 2016.

Elsewhere in his letter, Buffett said a lack of "sensible" purchase prices had prevented Berkshire Hathaway from making acquisitions in 2017. "The remaining $29 billion was delivered to us in December when Congress rewrote the U.S. Tax Code", he explained in the letter.

Thanks to legislation, signed by USA president Donald Trump in late December, Berkshire Hathaway was able to add an extra $29 billion to its net worth gains.

H.J. Heinz Co, backed by Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc and Brazil's private equity firm 3G Capital, acquired Kraft Foods Group in 2015 to create one of the biggest food and beverage companies in the world.

The billionaire and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway highlighted a $29 billion tax gain for his company, bemoaned a lack of good deals and reminded his readers that owning stocks through low-priced index funds was the best way to build wealth over time.

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Buffett, in his investor-friendly writing style, also addressed topics like the overpriced market for mergers and acquisitions and his disdain for Wall Street's high investment fees.

Here's what to watch for in the latest letter from Buffett, 87, which is set for release online Saturday at 8 a.m.at Berkshire's home page http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/.

Book value, a metric he's called a "crude, but useful" way to track the conglomerate's worth, climbed 13 percent to $211,750 per Class A share at the end of 2017 compared to three months earlier, the company said Saturday in a statement.

Last year, however, was another good one for Berkshire stockholders, as the company's "A" shares rose almost 22%, vs. a gain of 19.4% for the S&P 500, a broad stock market index.

The iPhone maker, which wasn't even a Berkshire holding until the first quarter of 2016, has quickly grown to one of Berkshire's top stock holdings, if not its biggest. Overall - and over time - we should get decent results.

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Warren Buffett handily won the bet he entered against hedge funds in 2007.

Buffett says investors shouldn't assume that bonds are less risky than stocks.

In 2014, Buffett said he plans to put 90 percent of the money he leaves to his wife, Astrid, when he dies into an S&P 500 index fund, and 10 percent in government bonds.

"In America, equity investors have the wind at their back", he said.

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